him the most important person in the mix this week in the vice president spoke about foreign policy challenges at the munish security conference. >> we have made it clear at the outset that we would not-- we would be prepared to me bilaterally with the irani leadership. we would not make it a secret that we were doing that. we would let our partners know if that occasion presented itself. that offer stands. nearly all of our partners and allies are convinced that president assad is a tyrant, hell-bent on clinging to power, is no longer fit to lead the syrian people and he must go. >> as well as syria and iran the united states faces new challenges from islammix extremism in african, yet it is not clear they are ready to stand on their own by 2014 when u.s. troops are scheduled to withdraw. and great power politics are on the a lend-- agenda again. china is confident, insertive in the south china sea in relations about moskow have cooled. all of this with a troubled economy at home and calls for a lighter footprint abroad. i'm pleased to have tom donilon back at this table. welcome.